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Jonathan: I Didn’t Implement 2014 Confab Report Because I Was Confident of Victory in 2015

Jonathan: I Didn’t Implement 2014 Confab Report Because I Was Confident of Victory in 2015

•Says he wanted to use his second tenure for implementation  

•Blames PDP-elected lawmakers

Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Emameh Gabriel in Abuja

For the first time since he left office in 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said his administration could not implement the 2014 National Conference report, because he was confident that he would win the 2015 presidential election and use the first two years of his second tenure to implement the report.

Jonathan, however, explained that with a new government, it would have been easier to achieve the implementation of the report, saying one of the problems of the country was that Nigerians liked playing politics with things that had very much to do with national interest.

The former president, whose speech, was delivered by a former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, was a guest speaker at a public presentation of a book titled: “The National Conversation”, authored by the former spokesman for the 2014 National Conference, James Akpadem and the Communication Strategist for the conference, Sam Akpe, in Abuja.

“When I contested the 2015 elections, my expectation was that I would win a second term within which period I would have worked for the implementation of the confab report. I felt that within the next four-year mandate, my first two years would have been dedicated to implementing a reasonable part of the recommendations.

“If we take politics out of our national calculations, we would all agree that with a fresh government, it would have been easier to achieve the implementation of the report. One of the problems of this country is that we like playing politics with things that have very much to do with national interest.

“We play politics with our security. We play politics with our economy. We play politics with almost everything. That, definitely, is not the way to go, if we must make progress in realising our national aspirations and goals.”

Explaining how his efforts to implement the report were frustrated, Jonathan disclosed that he was handicapped not only because of the political environment at the build-up to the 2015 general election at the time, but was also betrayed by members of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially, PDP-elected members of National Assembly.

The Jonathan administration had in 2014 organised a national dialogue to deliberate on and recommend ways to resolve some of the challenges facing the country, many of which were rooted in history and disenchantment in some sections of the country, and arguably multiplied by the failure of his administration.

According to him, “The essence of the 2014 Confab was to encourage a healthy conversation among the populace, address the queries agitating the mind of Nigerians and mend fences, where possible. As at that time, it was obvious that the ethnic nationalities were singing discordant tunes on the state of the nation and future of the country.

“The widening fault lines posed a clear threat to the stability and existence of our dear nation. In responding to the yearnings of the people, my administration inaugurated the conference to provide the opportunity for Nigerians to discuss their issues and agree on the way forward.

“My message to the conference was very clear; that they could discuss everything, save for the sovereignty of our great country, Nigeria. I believe, like most Nigerians, that we are better off as one united country.”

Jonathan argued that the ethnic diversity and population of the country could be deployed to enhance its economic development and relevance in the global scheme of things, adding that on the contrary, disintegration into smaller fragments would diminish the status of Nigeria and its standing in the world.

Expatiating further on why he could not implement the recommendations of the report as being canvassed by some people, he said his feeling was either those people did not understand the political environment at that time, the length of time it would take to implement the report of a conference like that or probably were just playing politics with such an important matter.

He said those knowledgeable about the processes of constitutional reforms would know that to implement the confab report, a number of alterations would be made in the constitution, which would require the involvement of the National Assembly and state assemblies.

Continuing, he said, “Such elaborate review couldn’t have been possible at that time, because by the time the report was submitted in August 2014, we were already on the verge of a general election.

“It is also important to point out that at that time, the speaker of the House of representatives, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was a member of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had already moved out, with some members, to the opposition party.

“When you know that your parliament is under that kind of situation, it would have been imprudent on my own part to take such a precious document, which I consider as crucial to our development yearnings, to a parliament that would not give it due consideration.”

The former President added that the report and the outcome of the conference would continue to generate interest and debates with people approaching the discourse from the viewpoints of their beliefs, sectional sentiments, political orientation, and ideological persuasion.

Also, speaking at the event, former Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Ita Enang, said the Buhari administration must do everything possible to see to the implementation of report of the 2014 National Conference.

According to the authors, the book was written by the two insiders at the conference for people to understand the vision of the Confab, designed to give the people a bird’s eye view of the document at a time the country was preparing for the next general election.

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